Each year in Lebanon, a group of Grade 9 Syrian refugee students from the school we support in Zahle, make the risky crossing back over the border into Syria on their own to take their high school exams. Students this year all passed with flying colours!
Passing their high school exams in Syria is hugely significant for the refugee children we support in Lebanon as it means they would be able to continue their education if and when a return to their home country is possible.
When exams came around this summer, the students took PCR tests and headed to the border. They waited all day for permission to cross, but their request was denied.
Nuna, our Programme Manager in Lebanon got on the phone, negotiating with her connections to try and secure a pass for the next day. Everyone was very anxious at this point that they would not be able to sit the exam.
With little time left, after some intense negotiations with the Syrian Ministry of Education and the Syrian Embassy in Lebanon and another two day wait, the group got approval to cross. Many students had left Syria illegally and faced an intimidating interrogation at the border about where they had lived in Syria, who their parents were and how they crossed the border. Eventually, they were allowed to pass, but the delays meant they reached their exams with little time to spare.
The students safely returned to Lebanon after their exams, and not only did they succeed in their adventure to cross the border and back, but every single student passed.
With the average pass rate in Syria being 75% for schools, this is an amazing result for the group and everyone involved is incredibly proud. The Zahle school was the only place in Lebanon to get a 100% success rate in these exams.
Read about last years Grade 9 students >>
Crossing the border back into Syria was risky. Being older, there were concerns he could be sent to the army. Thankfully, the worst thing that happened was paying a $100 fine at the border in order to cross. As he was the oldest in the group, he was given extra responsibilities to look out for the younger ones as they have to cross the border on their own. He took charge of the money that the students needed for their extended stay.
Project Manager Nuna Matar says “We have seen Mounzir grow, mature, take responsibility and excel. He also wants to continue for 12th grade. He impressed us with his determination as he was working full time, and studying full time, but still succeeded and was one of the students who passed with high honours”.